Market roundup: Buyer decisiveness critical to avoid disappointment as market shows no sign of slowdown

OnTheMarket Chief Executive Officer, Jason Tebb, summarises the key findings of our latest Property Sentiment Index.

– 75% of active buyers in the UK were confident that they would purchase a property within the next 3 months

– 82% of sellers in the UK were confident that they would sell their property within the next 3 months

– 64% of properties were Sold Subject to Contract (SSTC) within 30 days of first being advertised for sale, compared with 51% in March 2021

– Buyers must be decisive or risk the disappointment of missing out on their chosen property

High levels of buyer and seller sentiment continued unabated in March, with our data showing the proportion of active buyers and sellers confident that they can purchase or sell within three months unchanged from February. Despite considerable upheaval over the past month in the wider economy, including another Bank of England base rate rise of 0.25 percentage points, taking us back to the pre-Covid rate of 0.75%, together with the cost of living crisis becoming prevalent in many householders’ minds, the housing market continues to adjust and thrive. We’d suggest that the current market is continuing to adjust to a ‘new normal’, an elevated version of the pre-pandemic market, where heightened buyer activity and demand continues to meet low levels of housing stock.

March saw an uptick in new listings coming to the market as we’d expect in the run-up to Easter, particularly large, detached family properties. However, as well as those who may have recently made the decision to move this year, there remains strong pent-up demand from buyers who are keen to rectify missing out on a move in the past 12 or even 24 months. Sure enough, our data bears this out with 64% of properties sold within 30 days of first being advertised for sale in March, compared with 61% of properties in February. In real terms, this echoes what many of our agents are saying anecdotally, which is that new listings aren’t hanging around for long.

Many of those buyers who hesitated and didn’t make a purchase last year are finding it difficult to afford what they were considering buying previously, such are the price differentials and gains in value over the last 12 months. What’s more, despite double-digit growth in many parts of the country, asking prices continue to rise; our data showed a £12,517 jump in average asking prices between February and March 2022 alone.

With this in mind, it’s time for buyers to be organised, bold and decisive if they’re serious about moving, especially with demand likely to outweigh supply for a while yet. Delays in committing to a purchase could mean the market further runs away from them, or at the very least buyers will suffer from the disappointment of missing out on their chosen property. Those selling are of course achieving strong prices but, as we’ve said before, for those moving up the ladder that also means spending a relatively higher price on their next property, as the trading gap is growing ever wider.

Overall, we’d suggest that a remarkable level of confidence remains in the housing market, despite all apparent headwinds. With rising living costs only likely to continue on their upwards trajectory, many buyers are keen to lock into a low mortgage rate before they rise further still. This means that the current direction of travel for the UK’s property market seems set to remain unchanged, certainly as spring heralds the usual time for sellers to instruct an agent to take advantage of gardens that are looking more colourful now winter is behind us.

You can read the full Property Sentiment Index here.

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